Libraries

The mission of Estonian libraries is to shape people's reading habits, support lifelong learning and ensure free access to information and knowledge for everyone. The result is a cultural, intelligent and well-off citizenry.

Based on the needs of the users, the Estonian library network is comprised of public, school, research and professional libraries and the National Library of Estonia.

The Ministry of Culture coordinates the development of the Estonian library network as a whole in cooperation with the Ministry of Education and Research, other ministries and local governments.

Despite their diverse tasks and various sectoral affiliations, Estonian libraries cooperate closely, based on international standards and Estonian guidelines.

Library services are used by every other Estonian resident, which makes libraries the cultural institutions with the largest number of customer contacts in Estonia.

Information on the location of libraries and their websites can be found on this online map.

Journal Raamatukogu

With the support of the Ministry of Culture, the professional journal Raamatukogu (Library) is published six times a year. The journal introduces new directions in librarianship and deals with problems and mediates information about the activities of libraries. Also published are articles on culture, literature, book history and publishing. The journal is published by the Estonian Librarians’ Association and the National Library of Estonia (ERÜ).

As of 2019, the journal is available in online publication on the issuu website and as a print-on-demand publication.

Previous issues of the journal are available from the DIGAR digital archive.

Statistics

  • 13 million loans per year, of which 10.3 million from public libraries
  • 6.9 million visits per year
  • 8.4 million virtual visits per year
  • 704,900 readers
  • 30.8 million documents
  • 2,423 employees

Legislation

The activities of libraries in Estonia are regulated by the Public Library Act, Preservation Copy Act, and the National Library of Estonia Act.

The activities of the Estonian Storage Library are regulated by the Statutes of the Estonian Storage Library.

The activities of research libraries are regulated by the laws of public universities and the Research and Development Organisation Act, while the activities of school libraries are regulated by the Basic Schools and Upper Secondary Schools Act.

The process for updating the Public Libraries Act is underway.

Virtual libraries

The state supports the digitisation of valuable literature and publication as e-books. Thanks to this, a large number of important literary works have reached the readers via the DIGAR digital archive of the National Library of Estonia.

  • DIGAR is the user environment of the National Library of Estonia, which offers access to publications stored in the digital archives. These include e-books, newspapers, magazines, maps, sheet music, photos, postcards, posters, illustrations, audiobooks and music files. The books and periodicals are mostly in pdf or epub format, visuals in jpeg format, and audio recordings WAV format.
  • The e-catalogues ester.eelugeja.ee and webriks.ee contain the records of Estonian libraries regarding books, periodicals, notes, sound recordings, e-resources, etc.
  • ELLU is the Tallinn Central Library’s e-library, which provides access to the works of Estonian writers and Estonian- and Russian-language literature. 
  • The database of Estonian articles, i.e. the Index Scriptorum Estoniae (ISE), is a database of articles from newspapers, magazines, collections and serials, which is updated daily as a joint project of the libraries in the ELNET Consortium. The entire texts of many of the publications are available on DIGAR. Thematic databases are also created in this same environment. 

  • The Red Book of Estonian Publications is a list of publications essential for Estonian cultural memory. Nominees were selected from the list based on their cultural value, availabity, preservation risks and condition.
  • The Local History Portal is a system for storing the information on local history in Estonia’s public libraries. It enables you to search for articles and documents about various places and to read longer articles and encyclopaedic material. It is also available on the National Library’s portal.
  • E-varamu is a portal that makes available the digitized and digital resources of Estonian memory institutions, i.e. the libraries, archives and museums.
  • Europeana is Europe cultural heritage portal, which was initiated with the support of the European Commission. Its objective is to make the digital collections of European archives, libraries and museums accessible to the public through a single online environment.

Important partners

The Council of Public Libraries is an advisory body of the Ministry of Culture, which includes representatives of libraries and their founders, as well as other experts in the library field. The activities of the Council of Public Libraries are regulated by Regulation no. 5 of the Minister of Culture dated 25 February 1999 and its membership was approved by the Directive no. 82 of the Minister of Culture dated 14 May 2020.  

Members of the Council of Public Libraries:

Janne Andresoo – Director General of the National Library of Estonia
Kaie Holm – Director of the Tallinn Central Library
Marina Jantson – Head Service Specialist of the Pärnu Central Library
Kädi Koppe – Adviser to the Association of Estonian Cities and Municipalities
Aira Lepik – Tallinn University, Lecturer in Librarianship at the Institute of Digital Technologies
Reet Lubi – Director of the Viljandi City Library
Kati Maidla – Director of the Põlva Central Library
Kristina Pai – Executive Director of the Estonian Library Network Consortium
Merilin Piipuu – Undersecretary for Cultural Heritage, Ministry of Culture
Mai Põldaas – Development Manager of the Oskar Luts City Library in Tartu
Katre Riisalu – Member of the Board, Estonian Librarians' Association
Triin Soone – Director of the Estonian Children's Literature Centre
Ülle Talihärm – Adviser (Libraries), Cultural Heritage Department, Ministry of Culture
Kaili Õunapuu-Seidelberg – Director of the West-Virumaa Central Library

The Council of Public Libraries makes proposals and expresses opinions on issues related to the activities and developments of public libraries, for example, makes proposals for the development of targeted programs and projects related to public libraries.

Estonian Librarians Association (ERÜ) 
About 800 librarians and several libraries belong to the association. The association provides librarians the opportunity to have say in the development of librarianship. The association organises training and professional events and promotes the professional qualifications of librarians. The association publishes a yearbook and a journal called Raamatukogu (Library)., together with the National Library of Estonia. The association is member of the International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions (IFLA). 

Estonian Library Network Consortium, i.e. the ELNET Consortium
A non-profit association established for the joint promotion of the public interests of libraries, which manages and develops the integrated library systems Sierra / Millennium and the e-catalog ESTER as well as ISE, the Estonian database based thereon. The consortium also manages and develops the Estonian dictionary of keywords (EMS).

Contact

Ülle Talihärm

Adviser (Libraries)

Last updated: 12.12.2020